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Patient management needs critical decisions to be taken by the nursing staff.
Healthcare industry without the smiling faces of the Nurses and their compassionate gestures is difficult to imagine. Nurses play a pivotal role as the first responders for critical patient care in and outside emergency rooms. Patient management needs critical decisions to be taken by the nursing staff. At this moment if a nurse accesses critical information that can provide timely solutions, then it will help not just the patients but also the nurses. Precisely for this reason, the nursing profession should adapt for a digital future and nurse practitioner courses have to prepare the future nurses to be digital ready.
A nurse should be able to see all the patient records, digitally curated in one place, without any barriers from the county, state, or even country. A patient’s history, with details of their General Practitioner, their medical history including acute or chronic symptoms of their ailments, insurance records, and general correspondence information, should be accessible to every hospital and Nurse in charge. Nurses should also use data analysis to locate critical medical supplies and organ and blood availability required for a patient’s use.
The benefits that can arise with the digitization of the healthcare industry are immense and can never cease to amaze us. Technological advancements in the medical field have saved many lives which hitherto were unheard. The telehealth technology with its Artificial Intelligence AI, data analysis, and internet penetration to the farthest corners of the globe, will only ease the challenges of the healthcare industry. However, the benefits offered by a digital future are facing persisting hurdles. Crossing such hurdles will benefit the nursing profession. Also the nurses will benefit from a conducive clinical environment to work-in.
So let us look at how the nursing profession should adapt for a digital future:-
Identifying the barriers to seamless digitization and working toward eliminating or minimizing its impact on the nursing profession should be the first step in adapting to the future.
Improve clinical environment
Nurses struggling to deliver patient care sometimes do not find enough time to break for lunch. Often taking a break to go to the washroom is also difficult for them. There are days when they cannot sleep at a stretch. As a result of a lack of proper sleep and nutrition, most nurses feel fatigued. When such a scenario persists in a hospital or the healthcare industry, the nursing community will not be able to learn and engage in new technology.
Policymakers, healthcare industry experts, and hospital management should work towards elevating the clinical environment where a nurse can work and be his/her best version. Nurses should be able to take time off to rejuvenate and get back to their work. If workforce shortages are the reason behind overworked and under-staffed nurses' inability to adapt to digital advancements, then this problem should be dealt with at root level. Adequate training and retraining has to be provided for a seamless digital transition keeping in mind that unlike other professions there are patient’s lives at stake.
Let nurses be part of the digitization.
A nurse understands the workflow and challenges faced by the nursing profession. So nurse practitioners should be a part of any technology that will digitally replace a traditional practice, right from the developmental stage. The healthcare industry should not expect a group of engineers, product designers, and software coders to step into the shoes of a working nurse.
Nurses will make informed decisions only when they are leading from the front. When a hospital decides to replace a traditional medical system with a digital product, it should involve its nursing staff in the procurement, implementation, and hands-on product training for a smooth transition. If it is a customized software or a digital product, nurses have to be involved, not just in the testing phase but right from day one of the developmental phase. Otherwise, money is wasted in trying to make simple solutions for complicated and critical problems.
Although it is necessary to involve nurses at every stage of product development, it is good to know that a nurse is not a software engineer. They should not be expected to work like an IT person. So a nurse leader who oversees a team of nurses handling patient care and stays abreast with the latest healthcare initiative and research, should be able to report both to the IT and the nursing side. A complete engagement of the IT and nursing side can fill the gaps in understanding and give a holistic perspective of the end-users to the product developers. Whenever a digital product is launched in a clinical setup an IT facilitator should also check with the nurses to see if there are any bugs that have to be removed.
Although it is necessary to involve nurses at every stage of product development, it is good to know that a nurse is not a software engineer. As the globe moves towards a digital future, nursing will not be left far behind. The overall problem of nurses lacking the basic computer skills to be digitally competent, can be solved by improvising the core curriculum. A credit for computer skills must be compulsory for every form of NCLEX paper that a nurse practitioner has to clear. Thus the primary need for the contributors to be digitally literate is solved. Without being digitally literate, no workforce or profession can be digitally ready.
Let the new change be simple and easy to use.
Whenever a paper-based system in the nursing field is replaced with an advanced, digital solution, the primary focus should be to provide a better experience for both the patients and the nursing staff. Primarily, this is the reason any change should focus on making day-to-day operations efficient and easy.
Something as trivial as an unstable internet connection can hamper the workflow of state-of-the-art patient management systems. So it is important to get the basics right every time. There will be negative financial repercussions, if a clinic spends an exorbitant amount of money on the best software up-gradation for their diagnostic appliances, but fails to train their nursing staff.
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